Burrowing Owls: An Adaptable Bird Species Worth Seeing

by Chris Anderson on January 31, 2024
Burrowing Owls are a truly remarkable and captivating bird species that inhabit parts of North and South America. These small, ground-dwelling owls possess a unique and distinctive appearance and various interesting behaviors, making them one of the most fascinating birds in the animal kingdom.
Burrowing Owls Micrathene whityneyi


Size, Weight, and Key Characteristics 

One of the most striking characteristics of the Burrowing Owl is its size and shape. These birds generally measure between 7.5 and 9 inches in height, with a wingspan ranging from 20 to 24 inches. Their stocky build and compact size make them ideally suited for living in underground burrows, where they derive their name.


These owls are known for their remarkable adaptability in terms of habitat. These birds can be found in various environments, including open grasslands, deserts, agricultural fields, and urban areas. They are adept at digging their burrows, which can be as deep as 10 feet, or occupying abandoned burrows created by other animals. They also use man-made structures such as pipes and culverts as their homes, highlighting their adaptability and resourcefulness.


Burrowing Owls are opportunistic predators that consume a diverse range of prey. Their diet includes insects, small mammals, reptiles, birds, carrion, and even human refuse. Their remarkable adaptability in terms of diet allows them to survive and thrive in various environments.


Regarding reproduction, Burrowing Owls exhibit a range of fascinating mating and nesting behaviors. These birds are monogamous, forming pair bonds that can last for several years. During the breeding season, males perform elaborate courtship displays that involve bobbing their heads and spreading their wings to attract a mate.

The female Burrowing Owl lays a clutch of between 4 and 12 eggs, which she incubates for around 28 days. Once the chicks hatch, they are cared for by both parents and usually fledge after about 5 to 6 weeks.

What We Find Amazing about Burrowing Owls

One of Burrowing Owls' most remarkable and unique aspects is their defense mechanism. When threatened, these birds will hiss, rattle their bills, and shake their tails to produce a sound similar to a rattlesnake's rattle. This behavior helps to deter potential predators and protect the Burrowing Owl and its young, making them one of the most adaptable and resourceful species in the animal kingdom.

Burrowing Owls are a remarkable and captivating bird species that have adapted to living in underground burrows in various environments. With their distinctive appearance, fascinating behaviors, and noteworthy adaptability, these birds are a favorite among birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts alike.